End Of Monarch Butterfly Migration Could Be In Sight

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The number of Monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico this year reached a record low, according to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report released on Wednesday, prompting widespread concern.

The WWF’s, Mexico Environment Department and the Natural Areas Commission concluded that the seasonal migration of Monarchs from North America to Mexico is in existential trouble. Since recording began more than two decades ago, the number of butterflies has fallen from a high of about 45 acres of butterflies in 1995 to just 1.65 acres today.

Entomologist Lincoln Brower said the decreasing numbers is an ominous development.

“Migration this fall is nothing short of a total disaster,” he said.

He said that the prospect of losing the migration is “unthinkable … given the fact that the migration may have been around since the last Ice Age.”

Brower said the suspected cause of the decreasing population is the spread of industrial farming.

“Industrial agriculture is just wiping out the whole food web,” he said. “From the Monarch’s point of view, what is lost is milkweed.”

Monarchs eat exclusively milkweed, which is also where they lay their eggs, he said.

Many industrial farms use crops that are genetically modified to be pesticide resistant. Pesticides are sprayed over large swaths of farmland and kill native plants, like milkweed. The practice is common in the Midwest and Great Lakes region, where Monarchs largely spend the summer.

The butterflies have also struggled on the other side of the border.

“In the early years, there was a lot of deforestation (in Mexico),” he said. “But the Mexican government has pretty much put a stop to that.”

To stem the decline in Monarch migration, Bower suggests working with the federal highway system and compromising with the agriculture community. He said he would like to see milkweed grown along U.S. highways, as well as the preservation from pesticide use of 100 feet alongside all fields.

Bower calls the loss of Monarch migration “the canary in the cornfield” in terms of the environment.

He said while he sees the loss as a “tragedy,” it is “a much bigger picture” and that it “is a symbol that we are messing up our environment.”

Source: WPR ORG
Galen Druke
January 30, 2014

About Mike Neuman

Environmentalist; Father; Senior Citizen; Husband, Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work Advocate; Animal/Children/People Lover (in general); Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin, Anti-long distance travel (via fossil fuel burning); Against militarism in any form; Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; for those in authority to listen attentively AND, as warranted, ACT AS NECESSARY AND IN A TIMELY MANNER TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE those concerns; Lover of music, especially live music, music by: David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Neil Young; John Prine; Steve Goodman; B.B. King; Eric Burton; Gracy Slick, Carol King;John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr; Bob Dylan; Lightfoot; Mark Knoffler; Richard Thompson; Elvis Presley; Tom Petty; Willie Nelson, Others too numerous to mention.

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